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Brown-Burke offers proof

New senator produces documents showing she gave up US citizenship

Inside Parliament With Alicia Dunkley

Sunday, February 12, 2012    

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GOVERNMENT Senator Angela Brown-Burke who Friday produced "proof" to the Upper House that she has renounced her United States (US) citizenship, says she is "itching" to make a meaningful contribution in her new capacity as a member of the Senate.

Brown-Burke, a vice-president of the People's National Party (PNP), came under fire from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party after it was announced on January 16 that she was one of the 13 recommended for appointment as government senators by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. She was subsequently elected as deputy president of the Senate when the House reopened on January 17.

The Jamaica Labour Party at the time said it was imperative that she provides proof of that renunciation at the earliest possible time.

Yesterday, the PNP senator did so on the Motion for Adjournment following the meeting of the Upper House.

Brown-Burke who said a spate of recent events had led to the public losing trust in leadership figures, said by her actions she was trying to restore that trust.

"I would like to declare and make available to my colleagues in the House documents that will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am indeed eligible to sit in the House, effective January 11, 2012," she said.

Brown-Burke then provided senators with copies of the Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States issued by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs. The documents showed that she resided in the United States between 1986 and 1997 and acquired the nationality of the United States by virtue of naturalisation in 1995. It also showed that she "expatriated herself" on January 11 this year under the provisions of Section 349 (a) (5) of the amended Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

Speaking with the Sunday Observer afterward she said, "I am a bit saddened because I think it reflects the state of the public's confidence and trust in us as politicians and the members of the honourable House, but I understand and I believe all of us have a responsibility to restore the public's trust in us."

"I freely offer the document. I am also mindful that the prime minister has called all of us to be transparent and accountable, and so I think it is only fitting we should do that," Brown-Burke added.

"The issue is behind me. There are so many things I want to do, so many discussions I want to have about public participation, about gender balance and equity in representation, the state of our children and about HIV education. So many other things that we need to talk about... I really am itching to get into those discussions," the senator said.

In the meantime, she said she has been researching and "thinking through, not just the broad issues, but what could be some of the solutions that would be applicable to Jamaica".

"So I am expecting to put some motions on the floor," she told the Sunday Observer.

Yesterday, Senator Arthur Williams, spokesperson for the JLP and leader of opposition business in the Senate, said the party would examine the document.

"I have just seen the document, I haven't read it yet but I take her at her word that the document will prove that at the time of her appointment, which is the relevant time, she was no longer a United States citizen. If that is so, then clearly she has met her requirements. If it is not so, then that's a completely different matter, it's a horse of a completely different colour," Williams said.

"We will examine the document and if we are satisfied then that is the end of the matter," he added.

Section 40(2) of the Jamaican Constitution prohibits the election of persons to the House, or appointment to the Senate, who has sworn allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.

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